View Full Version : Army strains get heavier & outlook looks grimmer

01-08-2005, 12:01 PM
As war toll grows, strains on Army get heavier and outlook looks grimmer

By Robert Burns, Associated Press, 1/7/2005 16:11

WASHINGTON (AP) The strain of fighting a counter-insurgency war in Iraq, on a scale not foreseen even a year ago and with no end in sight, is taking a startling toll on the American military.

The U.S. death count is rising at least 1,350 in all, rising by 70 or more each month.

Costs are escalating more than $1 billion a week, with the total now exceeding $100 billion.

And while Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a chief architect of the war, remains focused on his exit strategy training Iraqis to provide their own defense, enabling U.S. troops to begin leaving even he has recently used the term ''bleak'' to describe the situation.

Rumsfeld says he remains convinced that the only way out is to exercise patience and fortitude while a reliable Iraqi security force is developed. And U.S. military commanders in Iraq make almost daily pronouncements of optimism that the tide is beginning to turn against the insurgents.

Indeed, the Iraqi security forces are growing, in numbers at least, and U.S. forces continue to kill and capture insurgents, uncover and destroy arms caches and support the country's rebuilding. The administration hopes the Jan. 30 elections will mark a turning point for the better.

Yet, the Pentagon is so strapped to sustain a force of 150,000 troops in Iraq that some senior Army leaders are worried that the war combined with the conflict in Afghanistan is wearing out their soldiers.

The question is being raised: How does the military retain an all-volunteer force at the current level of U.S. commitment overseas?

One way, a senior Army official suggested, would be to spend an additional $3 billion a year to expand the Army by 30,000 soldiers. Another way would be to loosen restrictions on the use of the National Guard and Reserve, so they could be called to active duty for more than 24 total months of service, which is now the limit.

In putting together a force to rotate into Iraq starting this summer the fourth rotation since the war began the Army found itself with a smaller proportion of Guard and Reserves available because there just weren't enough left.

''We've tapped 'em out,'' the Army official said Thursday, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the manpower question has not been settled within the Pentagon.

The Army has about 135,000 soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait, and the official said that for planning purposes the service is figuring it will have to maintain that level for another four or five years. That's an astounding level of commitment, considering that the Army has many other obligations, including deterring war on the Korean peninsula and keeping peace in the Balkans.

And there is the ''other'' war the one in Afghanistan, now in its fourth year.

When President Bush made the decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein's government in March 2003, battlefield success came so quickly that military planners foresaw withdrawing 50,000 U.S. troops within weeks, with even more coming home in the fall of 2003. Instead, the size of the U.S. force there has actually grown and now stands at the highest level of the entire war.

Among the indicators of how deeply troubled the situation appears:

Despite a long and determined effort to build a competent Iraqi security force that could take over for the U.S. troops, that linchpin of Rumsfeld's exit strategy is, at best, inching ahead. The Iraqi force is only half the size that U.S. commanders believe is needed to do the job.

Despite a successful offensive in November against the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, the rebels remain capable of killing U.S. troops and Iraqi police and soldiers in Baghdad, Mosul and elsewhere almost daily. A roadside bomb killed seven U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Thursday. On Friday, a police captain was killed in a drive-by shooting in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, and gunmen shot to death a policeman walking near his house in Mosul.

A U.S. military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, said Friday the worst may be yet to come. ''I think a worst case is where they have a series of horrific attacks that cause mass casualties in some spectacular fashion in the days leading up to the elections,'' Lessel said. ''A year ago you didn't see these kinds of horrific things.''

EDITOR'S NOTE Robert Burns has covered national security affairs for the AP since 1990

Link (http://www.boston.com/dailynews/007/wash/As_war_toll_grows_strains_on_A:.shtml)

01-08-2005, 06:16 PM
Being active duty in the Army, I just want to say that alot of what is read in the media has a ring of truth to it. But much of what is being published has one purpose...selling the product. Right now the majority of the people in this country believe that we shouldn't be in Iraq. So the paper is going to print stuff to justify the people's feelings. Now, I don't believe myself that we went about the war the right way; however, I don't have a suggestion about how we could have done something different. I will say though, that the media does exploit the incidents that happen over there to make it seem like it is worse than it actually is. There are very few if any reports about how the situation of the people over there has improved. Not to turn a blind eye to the insurgents actions over there, because anything that happens where people die is a bad thing. But the whole situation is not a negative thing. JMHO.


01-09-2005, 05:23 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Dagwood:</font><hr> I will say though, that the media does exploit the incidents that happen over there to make it seem like it is worse than it actually is. <hr /></blockquote>

I hate to call you out on this, but this is complete and utter bullcrap. I've got friends over there. I've talked to many people who have just came back from there. Most of them were in the hotspots, like Falluja, etc. The media does not talk about what really goes on over there. Have you ever heard of people being kidnapped, and having their bodies returned chopped in pieces? What about bombs planted in the corpses of dead women and children? I myself was in the US Army, and I am telling you, that you are doing your fellow soldiers a DISSERVICE trying to downplay the horrors that they are going thru. The truth is, it is MUCH worse than it actually is for our SOLDIERS. The situation for the Iraqi people, that depends what city you are talking about. But all I know is, from what people who have BEEN THERE and SEEN IT are telling me, it's alot worse than what you and most other people think it is.

01-09-2005, 10:26 AM
I'm not trying to downplay the horrors of war by any stretch of the imagination. And I know that the media isn't printing everything that goes on over there. But they do their best to put the liberal spin on their reports. Now, have I been over there? No. Not yet, give me a few months, my unit is getting ready to deploy. Have I lost friends over there? Yes, I have. I've talked to many people who were and ARE over there currently, in hot spots like Fallujah, Mosul and Najaf. Yes, the things that are going on over there are horrible. They don't deny that. But they are also quick to point out that the incidents aren't happening all over the country. They are happening in a few select locals throughout the country. The media, and alot of the liberal voice out there is trying to make it seem that the whole country has gone to He11 in a handbasket. It hasn't. Yes the insurgants have turned areas like Najaf, Fallujah, Mosul, and parts of Baghdad into their version of hades; where people, soldiers, policemen, and others can't walk around safely. Where unspeakable atrocities happen on a daily basis. Ask your friends this though, and see what they say. Ask them if outside the hot spots, the situation is as bad as the media is portraying it? I'll wager that the answer is no. That's all I was trying to say before.


Gayle in MD
01-09-2005, 10:52 AM
I really don't know how you can fault the media for not reporting good news and improvment for Iraq when it is obvious there has been nothing but horror for the troops over there, the civilians, and the Iraqis.

I have a suggestion about one thing we could have done differently, we could have run George Bush out of the White House for getting us into this mess.

Yesterday there was a report about the accidental bombing of a residential house in which the government reported, I believe, six civilians killed including children. The man who owned the house said that was not true, there were atleast fourteen or sixteen people in the house who were killed.

I submit to you that much of what is NOT published or reported by our government, and the Bush War Mongers, about the war, has one purpose, to continue to mislead all of us about their catastrophic miscalculation by going into this mess in the first place, and worse, going in illequipped.

I wish you could hear the letters which my three neighbors and I share from our relatives who are over there in this hell in Iraq. We have three boys there from our neighborhood.

Bush was warned, "You break it, you own it" he didn't listen, he never listens.

Gayle in Md.

Gayle in MD
01-09-2005, 10:59 AM
May I say that I wash you the very best of luck and may the Gods be with you in your service to your country.

May I ask you, can you give me an example of how the media is distorting the conditions in the other areas of Iraq? I have not seen this. Most of what I have read and seen put forth by the American media speaks to the conditions in the very areas you mention, and on TV, film accompanies the reports.

How exactly do you think they are distorting things?

Gayle in Md.

01-09-2005, 12:17 PM
Honestly, I can only cite examples from people I have personally spoken to who have been over there. One person in particular, who was in most of the hotspots over there, with the exception of Mosul, who is an interrogator dealing directly with the locals over there, said that the majority of the news reports that are coming out of the area aren't false, but that they aren't reporting the complete picture of what is happening over there; meaning the good and the bad. I don't deny that the news media is not reporting the atrocities that is happening over there. But they also aren't reporting the progress that is being made in the reconstruction effort. And most certainly, they aren't reporting what our troops are going through in some spots over there.

My entire point though is, I've worked in the intelligence field for 6 years now. I've delt with what the news is reporting before it gets reported. And throughout this entire ordeal, I've seen the news take bits and pieces of what transpires and sensationalize it, while leaving other, many times more important pieces, (good and bad), out of the picture. Basically what I'm saying is that when I watch the news, it's like looking at an iceberg. What you are getting is only 10%. There is still 90% of what is actually going on over there still not being reported. I really would like to let people in on some of the information that I've seen, and been privy to. It may alter, just a little, your perception of what is going on over there. Unfortunately, I can't.

Thank you for your support btw. Even when there is a difference of opinion on our role over in the ME, seeing the support of people on the homefront is uplifting. Thank you again.


01-09-2005, 01:10 PM
There is still 90% of what is actually going on over there still not being reported. I really would like to let people in on some of the information that I've seen, and been privy to. It may alter, just a little, your perception of what is going on over there. Unfortunately, I can't. <hr /></blockquote>

My dad was in military intelligence for twenty years. What you're saying is 100% correct. Between what the media sensationalizes or the kind of spin our gov't puts on what we do hear American's tend to be treated like mushrooms:

Fed a ration of [censored] and kept in the dark.

As far as reporting the bad and not the good? I think a lot of that comes from the American people's appetite for sensationalism. You know, "If it bleeds it leads" - News agencies are commercial enterprises afterall and they will give the public what they're appetite calls for. They can sell more soap that way (commercials afterall are about selling products and the larger the audience the more products they sell).

The same general rule of thumb applies to the news we get about life on the home front. Murders, rapes, torture, train wrecks, drive by shootings, child abductions etc. are all apparently much more of an audience draw than the good news items that happen much more often.

Until people wise up and stop watching that BS I don't expect the news folks to change their format any time soon.


01-09-2005, 08:42 PM
I don't deny that the news media is not reporting the atrocities that is happening over there. But they also aren't reporting the progress that is being made in the reconstruction effort. <hr /></blockquote> Dag, you can post truthfully like this till you are blue in the face, but Gayle and nhp are never going to open their eyes once and even give an ounce of thought into what you are saying.


01-09-2005, 09:03 PM
You know...after two some odd years of this, you would think I would catch the drift. I guess it's the swamp yankee in me coming out that's just too hard headed to realize that some people just will not acknowledge that other possibilities exist. Not saying anyone is right or wrong, but that there is more than one perspective on the situation.


01-10-2005, 02:39 AM
Listen Dagwood, I didn't mean to come across so harsh, I just get angry sometimes on this particular issue. I swear on my life I am telling the truth that I have talked to soldiers and Marines who were there, and who have seen it all, and from what they tell me, its about 10x worse than what you see on the news. Not all of the media puts liberal spin, there is some conservative media also, just look at Sinclair Broadcasting.

If and when you do go, I wish you luck, God's grace, and please make sure you buy your own combat boots before you go, some nice comfortable ones. Take care.

01-10-2005, 04:45 AM
January 9, 2005
Defining Victory Down


The president prides himself on being a pig-headed guy. He is determined to win in Iraq even if he is not winning in Iraq.

So get ready for a Mohammedan mountain of spin defining victory down. Come what may - civil war over oil, Iranian-style fatwas du jour or men on prayer rugs reciting the Koran all day on the Iraqi TV network our own geniuses created - this administration will call it a triumph.

Even for a White House steeped in hooey, it's a challenge. President Bush will have to emulate the parsing and prevaricating he disdained in his predecessor: It depends on what the meaning of the word "win" is.

The president's still got a paper bag over his head, claiming that the daily horrors out of Iraq reflect just a few soreheads standing in the way of a glorious democracy, even though his commander of ground forces there concedes that the areas where more than half of Iraqis live are not secure enough for them to vote - an acknowledgment that the insurgency is resilient and growing. It's like saying Montana and North Dakota are safe to vote, but New York, Philadelphia and L.A. are not. What's a little disenfranchisement among friends?

"I know it's hard, but it's hard for a reason," Mr. Bush said on Friday, a day after seven G.I.'s and two marines died. "And the reason it's hard is because there are a handful of folks who fear freedom." If it's just a handful, how come it's so hard?

Then the president added: "And I look at the elections as a - as a - you know, as a - as - as a historical marker for our Iraq policy."

Well, that's clear. Mr. Bush is huddled in his bubble, but he's in a pickle. The administration that had no plan for what to do with Iraq when it got it, now has no plan for getting out.

The mood in Washington about our misadventure seemed to grow darker last week, maybe because lawmakers were back after visiting with their increasingly worried constituents and - even more alarming - visiting Iraq, where you still can't drive from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone without fearing for your life.

"It's going to be ugly," Joe Biden told Charlie Rose about the election.

Good luck.